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Bourbon Pecan Bars

People, it’s Thanksgiving time. Turkey and mashed potatoes and yams galore, brussels sprouts and cranberry sauce, and of course, you can never have enough pie.

Except you know what? I’ll beg to differ. I’m a pie lover like the best of ’em, but at a certain point, I need a break. I want a crumble, a crisp, perhaps some bars. Thanksgiving may be about tradition, but it needn’t resist a change of pace, right?

Look, we can split the difference. These pecan bars are basically pecan pie, in rectangle form. They have crust, they have gooey chewy topping. Did I mention they have bourbon? You will like them. Your guests will love them. And if you want to push things over the top, dunk’em in chocolate. That’ll bring the swoons. No one will miss pecan pie. And if they do? Well, there’s always apple, and pumpkin, pumpkin-caramel, and apple-cranberry, and…

With the big day under a month away, I know you’re all on the hunt for the best Thanksgiving recipes. As it turns out, we’re off to the in-laws, so I won’t be cooking. Don’t worry, though – I won’t be leaving you stranded. Y’all know there’s that crazy part of me that can’t bear the thought of missing Thanksgiving prep – it’s a weird sort of FOMO reserved for food bloggers. So here I am, with not an ounce of turkey to cook and not a pie to bake, still coming at you with recipes and menus to make your holiday memorable. First up are these bourbon pecan bars. But I’ve got more up my sleeve, so stay tuned.

Bourbon Pecan Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 48 bars*

*Note: Martha says this recipe makes 24 bars. She has you bake them in an 8×8. But I tend to like a thinner bar, with a texture more like shortbread, so I spread the recipe out in a 9×13. If you like thicker bars, bake in an 8×8 or double the recipe.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
1 egg

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (about 2 cups) coarsely chopped pecans

Make crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking pan with foil. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg; pulse just until a dough forms.

Transfer dough to prepared pan; with floured fingers and/or an offset spatula, press firmly into bottom of the pan in a single, uniform layer. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Prick bottom of dough; bake until lightly golden, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool while preparing filling.

Make the filling: In a large saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat, whisking constantly, until smooth; continue boiling, without stirring, until slightly darkened, about 2 minutes.
Remove pan from heat. Whisk in cream, bourbon, and salt; mix in pecans.

Assemble and bake: Spoon hot filling evenly over crust, using spoon to arrange and press in nuts so they fit snugly (create as flat a surface as possible).
Bake until bubbling and amber-colored, 18 to 22 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Using foil, lift cake from pan; peel off foil. With a sharp knife, trim edges (if desired). Cut crosswise into 8 even strips; cut each strip into 6 even rectangles to make 48 bars.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Aliza S. November 14, 2011,

    Can wait to see more T-giving dessert (and other) recipes!! These bars look amazing but I think I’m going to do all pies this year (pumpkin, pecan, apple/cran, something chocolate).

  • la domestique November 14, 2011,

    What a fun little treat! I love pecans and the bourbon+buttery flavors.

  • LiztheChef November 14, 2011,

    I absolutely love the idea of bars rather than a whole pie. Moderation is where it’s at and these remind me of how folks love their own cupcake. Luscious!

    • rivka November 15, 2011,

      Yes, I feel the same way. Also, for me personally – and I totally get that this is a personal thing – the crust-to-filling ratio in bars is better than in pie.

  • Amy Weiss November 20, 2011,

    Sounds yummy. Making them today. Should I freeze until Thursday?
    Thank you for sharing. love the site.

    • rivka November 20, 2011,

      Hi Amy, yes. You should freeze them until Thursday. I did as well, and they didn’t suffer a wink.

  • Michelle November 20, 2011,


    I loved this post and am excited to make these bars in the next few days, but I was just making notes on the recipe in my notebook and I can’t see where I should add the bourbon. Can you advise — stir it in with the cream, or boil it with the sugar? Sorry if I’ve missed something.


    • rivka November 21, 2011,


      Thanks for the good catch! you add it in with the cream; recipe is now updated.

  • Hannah November 22, 2011,

    You really can’t go wrong with this combination of flavors, and it is nice to mix it up a little with the desserts! Happy Thanksgiving!